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Archive for July, 2011

[From 2009.]

Pioneer Day was originally, in Mormon culture, a commemoration of the first pioneers’ arrival in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, and was celebrated from the very beginning, starting in 1848. Over the years, the day gradually became an annual festival honoring all pioneers and early inhabitants in Utah, where it is an official state holiday. It’s also celebrated by LDS folks across a wide swath of the western United States, Canada, and northern Mexico, and in other parts of the world.

In the spirit of wider inclusiveness that has come to mark this holiday, I wish today to honor the memory of two other pioneers — separated by a century and a continent — who selflessly championed the right of others to live as they saw fit.

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Yesterday Governor Brown of California signed a bill requiring that “the contributions of gays and lesbians in the state and the country be included in social science instruction and in textbooks.” This is an important step forward which dovetails with — and gives solid, evidentiary support to — Dan Savage’s It Gets Better campaign.

It Gets Better and the new California law are, in my opinion, inextricably linked together; one of a piece. And neither of them was remotely imaginable in the very different world into which I was born and grew up.

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“A demonic idol”

This rank — and, dare I say it, un-American — idiocy deserves the widest possible notoriety; and by rights should be hung around Rick Perry’s neck until his potential candidacy sinks once and for all into a richly deserved obscurity. From Right Wing Watch:

One self-described ‘Apostle’ who has signed on as an official endorser to Perry’s The Response prayer rally is John Benefiel of the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network, a group affiliated with the New Apostolic Reformation with ties to other The Response endorsers including Cindy Jacobs, C. Peter Wagner and Jay Swallow. In a sermon last August, Benefiel argued that America is under a curse from God because the country possesses monuments to pagan idols and that Americans needs to renounce those idols if not destroy them. Benefiel claims that the Statue of Liberty is in fact a “demonic idol” because it represents a “false goddess.”

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Renetta

Maybe it’s just the fog, and the mother-of-pearl light, melancholy yet warm, that it imparts to summer days here on the coast, but sometimes, like this morning, I imagine I can almost feel something like the presence of ghosts. Whatever the reason — fog in the atmosphere, fog in the brain — I feel impelled to share what I know of Renetta. Maybe then she’ll let me be.

Here she is in 1897, looking rather chic and a bit wistful in this wedding photo. Or is it just me? Read her story, then come back and study her face, and tell me if I’m wrong.

Renetta Fuquay Lee Diehl

Renetta Fuquay Lee Diehl

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